Thursday, November 22, 2018
Storm Rising (An F.B.I. K-9 Novel) by Sara Driscoll: Reading Room Review
Having just adopted a rescue dog, I have a special affinity for a story in which a rescue dog is a main character. Storm Rising is the third book in the F.B.I. K-9 series by Sara Driscoll, and it takes us on another harrowing adventure where humans and animals rely on one another to safely navigate disasters, man-made and natural. Meg Jennings and her dog partner Hawk are part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team, performing search and rescue of people wherever a disaster strikes and they are called. The call this time is to the Virginia Beach area after a hurricane has smashed through with winds and storm surge strong enough to wipe houses off their foundations. It will be the job of FBI K-9 team to find survivors who failed to heed the evacuation warning. It’s a stressful job, with the highs of finding a live target and the lows of being too late to help.
Accompanying Meg on the drive from D.C. to Virginia Beach is her boyfriend Todd Webb, who is a firefighter/paramedic assigned to his D.C. team also called in to help the hurricane victims. While Meg joins her fellow handlers and their dogs, including her best friend Brian and his dog Lacey, to search houses still standing and in water for life, Todd goes to a hospital to evacuate aging patients not moved ahead of the storm. The painstaking process of going from house to house and checking for survivors is a dangerous one, and Driscoll takes readers into the heart of it by describing the steps taken before, during, and after a rescue. The trust of authenticity is established, which is so important to a reading experience.
When the job shifts to Norfolk, Meg and Todd once again share a ride to the area. On their way, Todd catches sight of an overturned van in the flooded marshlands of the Elizabeth River, just off the highway, and they stop to investigate, checking for anyone who might be left in the van needing rescue. What they find is a horror story. The driver is long gone, but two young girls dressed in sexually suggestive outfits are dead, left dangling from restraints in the van. However, there are signs of at least one more girl who escaped. It doesn’t take much time for Meg and Todd to realize they have stumbled onto a sex trade operation, and authorities are called in.
Time is of the essence, and Meg jumps right into an area called The Great Dismal Swamp to search for the girl who is probably injured and needs their help. Two girls are eventually found, one injured and one in fear for her life. The first one is taken to the hospital, and the second one, Emma, to a safe place where she bonds with Meg as a person she can trust and Hawk as a measure of comfort. With Emma’s reliance on Meg, it’s a natural step for Meg to join SAC Walter Van Cleeve in the ensuing investigation of the seedy business that has ripped Emma and many other young girls from a normal life into one of darkness and abuse. Also joining in the fight to bring justice to these girls is Clay McCord, a Washington Post reporter, who is a friend of Meg’s and Meg’s sister’s boyfriend. With his contacts, inroads can be easier made into the seedy places they must go. The crime network that they must crack is full of well-kept secrets, so it will be a challenge to find and punish those at the top of this evil business.
This book covers so much, but it is at its core a story of rescue. The part that trained dogs play in disaster rescue is fascinating, and the loyalty between handler and dog is felt keenly in Sara Driscoll’s descriptions of their interactions and care for one another. The issue that captivates our attention in this particular story, that of the sex slave trade, is handled without any graphic description of any sort. It is the emotional toll of the victims we are made aware of, that pulls at our hearts, and makes the issue appear as the urgent problem that it is. Rescuing innocents from this dire fate is a compelling incentive to bring down those who profit from it. Storm Rising is not only a great piece of storytelling; it is an important read for awareness.
I was fortunate to receive an ARC of Storm Rising from the author, and I have given a fair and honest review of the book.